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Old 07-12-2013, 05:27 PM
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Default Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

The thread is titled such because I was introduced to the concept of meditation from Sam Harris. I think he often has compelling ideas, and also has some irredeemably bad ideas he favors, like torture and Uri Gellar.

Because he introduced the idea to me, I've been reluctant to try. Lately, though, I recognize that I probably need to do something more than what I'm currently doing to improve my own mental/physical health. Supposedly, meditation can benefit restfulness, and I crash on the couch more often than I want to, often wrecking my evening plans. I certainly could always use more focus.

I'd like to get more information from redeemable assholes, so I'm asking here.

Does anybody meditate? Is it useful? Are there good (reputable) sources of information?
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:46 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

I'm kinda in your shoes. I've heard nothing but good things about regular meditation. I've done a little here and there and liked it. But with a 3 yr old and a 1 mth old, 1.5 jobs and a band that I play in time for meditating really cuts in to the little time for sleep I have! :sweaty:
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:34 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

I do meditate, but then I am (sorta) Buddhist. Meditation doesn't have to be attached to any sort of spiritual woo. That being said the best resources I have found have been Western Buddhist teachers.

Sit down on the floor with something supporting your butt so that it's slightly higher than your crossed legs. Uncomfortable? It will get better, but it will also keep you from falling asleep. Tilt your head slightly down and sit up straight. Place your hands in your lap and close your eyes. Give yourself a few minutes for your mind to slow down a bit. I do a counting meditation for about 10-15 mins (that's as long as I can sit) I count up to ten, then back down. If a stray thought interrupts, I acknowledge it, let it go, and start from one again. I have a timer on my phone that lets me know when I'm done.

The thing about trying to teach someone about meditation seems to be that some of the ideas are hard to get across, especially in a written form. Acknowledging a though? What I meant by that is that I realize that my mind has wandered, stop thinking the thought, and go back to being quiet.

It will take some time till you can keep your brain from mutiny and it will not be instant results but it has been worth it for me. I'm trying to find links, the one I used to use is no longer online.
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

Many years ago I would meditate and I am currently practicing again in a qualified way. There are books on meditation that cover techniques. Be careful when selecting a book for reference, and I will give an example of how to select the book. The example is about books on Yoga but the principle is the same, and books on Yoga could cover meditation as well. I was in a book store looking at the selection of books on Yoga based on the description on the back and the chapter titles, and had narrowed it down to 2 books. Both had a photo of an attractive woman on the cover sitting cross legged. On closer examination the one was in a proper Lotus position the other was not, the girl in the proper position was also in the book demonstrating different poitions, the other was only on the cover. Apparently she was just a 'cover model' selected to sell books, I bought the other book. In this case I decided you could judge a book by it's cover.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that meditation does not need to be done sitting still, meditation can take many forms. Mnay years ago I studied Karate and the Kata can become a form of meditation, teaching control and focus. In the same way music can be a form of meditation, such as playing the piano, if you can get to the point of really getting lost in the music, it can be an experience much like meditation. For starting out i would recomend a specific time, place, and method, till it becomes more familiar then you can experiment. I mentioned at the begining of the post that I was meditating in a qualified way and that is at the piano. There are 2 pieces that I play from memory, and they often go better when I don't think about the music too much. It seems that if I try to control what I am doing it's not as good as when I just let the music flow, and that is an experience that is much like meditation.

Curses mentioned stray thoughts, and these will be reduced with continued meditation, and the same thing applies to playing the piano which is why I compare it to meditation. If I have other thoughts other than the music, it can distract me and I can loose my place. Once we had several dinner guests and my wife finally said I should play for them as this had been a point of conversation. Normally I play when I am alone in the house or with family but other people make me self conscious about playing. The first piece was OK with a few usual comments while I played. And then I started the second piece and it got totally quiet and I realized everyone was just listening and focusing all their attention on me. I got almost to the end and lost it, the audience was just too distracting for me.
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:53 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

There's somebody on Freethought Blogs ... Greta Christina? Stephanie Zvan? who practices meditation and has some posts about it. :yup:

ETA: Greta Christina has posts on secular meditation: secular meditation

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Old 07-12-2013, 06:58 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

I get my zen on while riding a motorcycle on the open road in the featureless prairie. The focus I think is required for riding blocks out most extraneous thoughts. I live in the moment during those times, enjoying the wind on my body and the smells. Okay, not all the smells are pleasant, but when they aren't it's as fleeting as extraneous thoughts that may creep in from time to time.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by curses View Post
If a stray thought interrupts, I acknowledge it, let it go, and start from one again. I have a timer on my phone that lets me know when I'm done.
My stray thoughts would include:

1, 2, 3, did I remember to start the timer? Of course I did! damn!
1, 2, but I might not have done! Shall I look? No that would be stupid. Now you have to start over again!
1, 2, 3, 4, I suppose if I count up to ten and back a hundred times and the timer still hasn't gone off, then maybe I didn't start it after all? Shut up and meditate for fucks sake! This is stupid!
1, 2, 3, There's a chance that the phone battery might have run down, or the phone has locked up somehow! DON'T BE ABSURD! THIS IS GOING NOWHERE!
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, What if someone phones me, or texts me while the timer's running? Does that cancel the timer? I'm warning you for the last time!
1, 2, 3, I've wasted a lot of meditation time worrying about the damn timer, I bet it will go off any minute now! SHUT UP!!!
1, 2, 3, 4, Now, maybe? Right! this is your last warning!...
1, 2, 3, Now, perhaps?

Meditation session abruptly terminated, and high probability of phone being smashed.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:48 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

OCD meditation.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

Just try ideas from all different sources and see what works for you. You don't have to buy into whatever woo or spiritual ideas to use their techniques...breathing or sounds or whatever.

I, personally, simply can't do it. I cannot shut my mind off...when thoughts bubble up, trying to acknowledge them and let them go just brings up more thoughts about how exactly to let it go, which leads to "Why can't I let this shit go?!" etc. I similarly ruminate before falling asleep, so have just learned to try to direct the thoughts to pleasant things or positive plans until they merge into dreamlike out of control things then sleep.

I found that I can be hypnotized though, and additionally found it accomplished what I was looking for at the time, which was to completely relax and not have thoughts for five fucking minutes.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:56 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

Once upon a time (1997), in a land far far away (Utah), I took a tai chi class. At the end of each class we had a meditation exercise. We students would lie on the floor with out eyes closed. Our instructor would walk around the room playing something that would make a rhythmic tone, usually a soft sound of somekind, nondescript, really. He would tell us to go to our favorite place in the world, to fly there in our minds. I played along, imagining flying to SW Colorado to sit and watch the sunset from a rock on the rim of the Dolores River Gorge. It was a very relaxing 10 minutes. About the fifth or sixth session, our instructor switched to some kind of little drum during the session. I totally went somewhere else in my mind having visions that were not in my control. I was not asleep. It was weird, as if in a trance. He had to kick my foot to make me come out of it.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

I have a way of shutting my mind off - it's called sleep. I'm most vulnerable to this horrible affliction whenever my mind gets quiet for a few minutes. That will probably be the biggest difficulty in attempting to meditate.

It's also going to be hard to do this without someone looking at me like I'm an idiot, or - even more likely- dogs licking me.

I can't sit anywhere for any length of time without one or more dogs licking me. If I try to sit on the floor, I will get a 60 lb dog in my lap. He may or may not lick me then, but the other 2 might find it an opportune time.
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

I have a going to sleep ritual that could be akin to meditation. I build a simple log cabin in my mind, notching the logs, rolling them into place atop the previously laid logs. I never make it past four logs high and I'm out.
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Old 07-13-2013, 02:11 AM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

i say an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.
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Old 07-13-2013, 04:25 AM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

I don't do much formal meditation these days, but have in the past.

I would emphasize that the mind is mostly trained to stray; thoughts about the future, thoughts about the past, etc. Bringing attention back to the moment, the breath, counting- these are useful exercises.

Meditation can be helpful but may also bring up more thoughts and issues one may have been too busy (by design sometimes) to address.

I find that when a thought comes up, during meditation or otherwise, one technique is to bring your attention to the thought completely-entirely- for one moment, so that there is no space or distance between you and the thought- and see what is there. Generally what is there is energy which dissipates without any effort or rebuke.

Meditation can make one aware of the activity of the mind, a thing which many may never be aware of in their lives.

Also, irredeemable assholes can have good ideas. Just like your favorite music can be loved by a compete jerk. Does that make the music less beautiful?
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Old 07-13-2013, 05:13 AM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

I was politely asked not to come back to a yoga class because my lack of silent emptyheadedness was distracting the instructor. Apparently even my thinking about how I can't stop thinking is too obvious. I just don't get it. The only way that I can imagine not talking to myself is if I'm asleep or dead.
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Old 07-13-2013, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

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i say an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.
Not religious at all, so this wouldn't really suit me, although I suspect prayer and meditation are similar mental states and convey the same benefits.

I'll head off to the library this weekend and see what's available, but a lot like Greta Christina in her blog, the religious/spiritual aspect will take me right out of any mindful state.
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Old 07-13-2013, 04:46 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

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I was politely asked not to come back to a yoga class because my lack of silent emptyheadedness was distracting the instructor. Apparently even my thinking about how I can't stop thinking is too obvious. I just don't get it. The only way that I can imagine not talking to myself is if I'm asleep or dead.
Maybe you said what you were thinking out loud without knowing it. I do that sometimes, then I catch myself, "Did I just say that out loud?" Then I fade into the wallpaper.
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

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Also, irredeemable assholes can have good ideas. Just like your favorite music can be loved by a compete jerk. Does that make the music less beautiful?
In general, I try to rate ideas on their merits rather than their owner or consumers, but they're not entirely separate, you know? Being an irredeemable asshole for some reasons just makes me more immediately skeptical of the good ideas.
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:17 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

A man was drivng, had a flat tire, and stopped in front of an assylum to change the tire. While he was working an inmate stoped to watch throught the fence. At one point he had placed the lug nuts on the edge of a culvert and accadently knocked them off through a grate and into the water below. He sat down wondering what he should do and considered that if he called a tow truck he would be really late. The inmate spoke up and said, "Why don't you take one lug nut off the other wheels to hold this one on, it would get you to a garrage where you could get some more." The man looked up, surprised and asked, "How did you figure that out?" The inmate replied "I'm in here because I'm crazy, not stupid."
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:26 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by chunksmediocrites View Post
Also, irredeemable assholes can have good ideas. Just like your favorite music can be loved by a compete jerk. Does that make the music less beautiful?
In general, I try to rate ideas on their merits rather than their owner or consumers, but they're not entirely separate, you know? Being an irredeemable asshole for some reasons just makes me more immediately skeptical of the good ideas.
Also, what if it's causative?

Ultimately, I'd think there's a much better chance that it's good for you than bad, plus you can do it for free.
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Old 07-13-2013, 07:50 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

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A man was drivng, had a flat tire, and stopped in front of an assylum to change the tire. While he was working an inmate stoped to watch throught the fence. At one point he had placed the lug nuts on the edge of a culvert and accadently knocked them off through a grate and into the water below. He sat down wondering what he should do and considered that if he called a tow truck he would be really late. The inmate spoke up and said, "Why don't you take one lug nut off the other wheels to hold this one on, it would get you to a garrage where you could get some more." The man looked up, surprised and asked, "How did you figure that out?" The inmate replied "I'm in here because I'm crazy, not stupid."
I'm using this as evidence that PWI is a bad idea.
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Old 07-13-2013, 10:49 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

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Quote:
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I was politely asked not to come back to a yoga class because my lack of silent emptyheadedness was distracting the instructor. Apparently even my thinking about how I can't stop thinking is too obvious. I just don't get it. The only way that I can imagine not talking to myself is if I'm asleep or dead.
Maybe you said what you were thinking out loud without knowing it. I do that sometimes, then I catch myself, "Did I just say that out loud?" Then I fade into the wallpaper.
I do that too but since she also mentioned that fidgeting had no role in yoga I'm guessing that I was vibrating from the effort of trying to shut up in there or something. I liked the parts where we got to move around. I don't think when I dance, blare loud guitar music in my ears or exercise hard and that's as close as I can get.
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:34 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

I finally dragged myself to the library today. I immediately rejected all the books which had a quote from Deepak Chopra on it, or referenced Transcendental Meditation, God or spirituality on the cover or introduction. The point is that I'm likely to get angry at the spiritualism and chuck the book in the corner rather than try to glean the interesting tidbits.

I found 2 books. One mentioned the scientific method in the introduction (good) and how the author knows that he can't evaluate his own experience via the scientific method (also good - the author knows his own biases). Ultimately, I chose the other one, because its content is based on Mindful Based Cognitive Therapy. That's not to say I won't go back and read the other as well.

MBCT is the clinical application of meditation, and the therefore likely to be secular in its approach and methodology, as well as having some scientific knowledge to back it up.

We'll see how it goes from there.
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:56 AM
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Simple. (1) Sit down on your buttocks. It's called Zazen. It's a form of meditation. Notice the pain. goto (1)

(2) Read Sam Harris. Notice the bullshit. Burn his books. Walk over them. Notice the pain. goto (1)

(3) Read everything about Uri Geller, then think about what happens when people around the world look at a phosphorescent screen, hit by three electron beams, showing the same spoon. They see the same spot on a shiny object, hit by the same light, on different TV screens, modulated by the same signal. Think about it. Notice the pain. goto (2)
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Old 08-30-2013, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: Getting good ideas from irredeemable assholes, or should I try meditation?

So, I've been half-assing the whole meditation thing.

I found the first technique - the "body scan" somewhat useful, but I'm a pretty relaxed person, so I'm not really needing it for that. As I suspected, I can't sit for any amount of time without getting one or more dogs licking me. I also can only seem to manage once a day, and the book recommended twice a day.

I had to give the book back to the library, so I don't particularly know where to progress from here. I'll try again in a few weeks.
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